25 Jun The death of corporate attire – it’s time to loosen the tie
Sat here writing this blog in a tee, flanno, cardigan, and jeans (it’s a cold day). The aim is to get through another blog today too, as well as make a few client calls and send a few emails. None of these listed responsibilities require donning a suit. 2020 further confirm the death of corporate attire – it’s time to loosen the tie.
Fashion or function
The suit as we know it traces back to the 17th century, King Charles II, and was popularized in men’s fashion in the late 19th century. So why are we still wearing them?! Sure, corporate fashion has followed fashion of the time (we can blame Armani for those baggy suits of the 80’s and 90’s – they couldn’t even make Michael Jordan look good). And women have been much better at progressing and navigating corporate fashion, freely moving between pants, skirts, dresses and looking cool throughout. Men have stayed fairly close to the traditional path.
Largely due to the tech boom of the 90’s, you had Gen X’s entering the professional world with a Nirvana cassette in their Walkman, and actively bucking the norm. They likened suits to staleness. People wore suits as a sign of influence, respect (deserved or not), or conformity to make impression. But we live in a time of brains over brawn, where the pissing contest isn’t as prevalent in the corporate world (and where it is, people are still wearing suits).
Comfort over conformity
Now we are in a time where style is important and respected, but the face of the white-collar professional has changed (it may have a beard; and you should see the inked-up arms).
In 2016 JPMorgan kicked the suit out into Wall Street gutter and initiated a “business casual” dress-code for its quarter-million employees. A couple years later Goldman Sachs followed. Local firms are increasingly pairing well-fitting jeans with expensive boots and a collared shirt. Looks better than an ill-fitting multipurpose Lowes special any day of the work week. So, if they aren’t wearing a suit, why are you/we? An emotional maturity of corporate methodology means we look for genuine relationships. In business relationships we look for with meaningfulness, and respect for the ability, information and service one delivers. It’s about being comfortable in your presentation, not conforming. When someone is comfortable, they are in their genuine state. Do you really care if your accountant or lawyer (who you probably won’t see face-to-face) has a nice suit on?
At a time where we are blessed with the opportunity to take another leap forward in how we work, why not also look at your dress-code. What’s the norm? What’s expected in the office? Or when meeting a client? Don’t feel like you have to jump straight to a Zuckerberg hoodie*, but we can hear the knock of the death of corporate attire – it’s time to loosen the tie.
And hey, if the ol’ bag-o’-fruit is your personal preference then rock it! Again, it’s about being comfortable, hence genuine.
* Zucks wore a suit when he was in the shit with Congress… understandably.